Brendan Gaughan Post-Race Report - Daytona
Brendan Gaughan had every reason to believe that he could contend for the victory at Daytona International Speedway.
With a guaranteed starting position in the first race of the season, the Orleans Racing team focused their attention solely on race setup during the pre-qualifying practice sessions. That was why even after he qualified 32nd, Gaughan declared that his No. 77 Dodge was the best truck he had ever driven at the 2.5-mile Superspeedway.
As the race wore on, Gaughan backed up that statement as he raced his way forward in the running order.
With less than 30 laps to go, Gaughan successfully avoided a six truck pile-up in Turn 3 and was solidly positioned in the top 10 for the final run to the checkers.
The intensity level rose to a whole new level when the race went back to green as the drivers frantically jockeyed for position. Gaughan more than held his own as the frontrunners scrambled two- and three-wide all around him. Just as Gaughan began to believe he had a shot at putting his truck in Victory Lane disaster struck Orleans Racing with just three laps to go.
Gaughan’s Dodge made contact with the No. 17 driven by David Reutimann and in the blink of an eye the No. 77 turned hard into the outside wall. Gaughan limped his damaged ride to the checkered flag and was given credit for a 24th place finish, one lap behind the leaders.
“We stuck to our strategy,” said Gaughan after the race. “I went to the back and I stayed there for awhile. On that last run, Rambo said, ‘OK, there’s 40 laps to go, go!’ Every lap I would pass one guy on the outside. I’d catch him, clear him and go. I think we got up as high as third or fourth a couple times. I just stayed with that whole pack and there were a couple of laps to go when the wreck happened.
“Jack (Sprague) got really loose and did a great job of saving his race truck. He got back on the throttle to get going. He made it OK and I got to the outside of Jack and we came out of Turn 4 and I felt the air change behind me.
“Unfortunately this is going to be one of those moral victories. The truck was fantastic, engine-wise. Every adjustment Rambo made went in the right direction and it was little bits that made us better and better. Every time we came to pit road we gained two or three spots.
“We had a top five truck and the Orleans Racing team did exactly what we said. We stayed in the back for most of it where we wanted to and went to the front when we had to. We ran up front and proved that we had a truck that could win the race.
“We’re going to go to California and prove that we have a truck that can win that race.”